An unborn child saved the Zebic family.
A tribute to my little sister Mary (Harley) Zebic who rose to heaven at age 54 on December 22, 2015, to join our older sister Debbie age 61 on August 18, 2015, and our Dad age 65 on February 22, 1991.
The above are articles clipped from a few of many newspapers.
The above is a link to some photos taken at the scene of the Metropolitan blast.
In Disasters of the Century, a documentary television series that airs on History Television. They featured the Metropolitan blast in Episode 18.
My Mom once had a scrapbook Dad had saved of all the newspaper articles people mailed to him along with money tucked into the envelopes. People knew we were all safe yet they felt compelled to give aid to our poor family. People can be so incredible, and these folks will never know they became role models for me when I was just age 4! I remember Dad showing me all the stamps he had saved from the envelopes. He would tell his children stories about the origins of each of them. Dad was a brilliant and well-educated man.
I like to think that as my sisters are now closer, in earth ages, to Dad, they will have much more understanding of each other, and the benefits that go with such healing!
So how did an unborn child save our family? On October 25, 1960, my parents had taken three of us children shopping. They separated as my Dad went to purchase meat for dinner. The plan had been for my Mom to go into Metropolitan Store to buy socks for my older sister Debbie age 7 and my older brother Chico age six while they were in classes at St. Alphonsus school. Had Mom shopped as planned she, three of her children and her unborn child would have perished.
After the explosion, my Dad, believing his wife and children had gone into the Metropolitan Store as planned raced to the scene. His devastation and despair, thinking his family remained beneath the rubble with the many other bodies, did capture the attention of reporters.
Instead of following the plan, my Mom had decided to go to another nearby store to try on a maternity dress she knew she couldn’t afford. That is how my sister Mary saved our lives! My Mom gave credit to her unborn child, and she would tell me much later that she had also credited Mary the Mother of Jesus and that was the reason for Mary’s name.
A teacher had noticed things, like little toes sticking out of socks when boots season arrived. The school note insisted my parents restock my brother and sister’s sock drawers. We had laughed at that as with five children living in the tiny house we had to share dresser drawers and closet space. Socks were socks and if you found some that fit you put them on. We lived with hand-me-down clothes, and it never entered my mind then that I could have clothing that belonged to just me.
I think that is why, like comfort foods, I still enjoy shopping at the second-hand stores. My house is an eclectic mix of furniture, kitchenware and artwork found in resale shops or while “yard-saleing!”
Chico’s real name is Daniel, and we’ve pretty much always called him Danny. My Dad nicknamed him Chico for reasons unknown, and when we were small children, it hadn’t mattered. Debbie’s real name was Dobrilla, but nobody ever called her that. My name was Zora, and the nickname my Dad had given me was “Little Monkey”.
My eldest half-sister Pearl would later tell me that she had lived with us for a short time. She said while I was still an infant whenever my Dad got home he would pick me up and every time I would throw my tiny arms around his neck and cling tightly! She said I was amazingly strong and my Dad enjoyed showing people how he could let go of me as he walked around the house and my grip would not weaken. I guess I just loved that man!
I was recently talking to Mary’s youngest girl, and she asked, “Do you think my Mom ever knew she had saved you, Aunt Polly, Uncle Tommy, Grandma and herself?” I couldn’t give her an answer to that. I hope Dad, when reunited with his youngest child took her into his arms and told her every beautiful word of the story. For all the problems she encountered in the earthly realm she deserves to know she was responsible for saving four lives and even her unborn self.
I was only age 4 when the explosion happened, but I do have memories of that day. As my Mom had turned to leave the scene to gather Debbie and Chico from St. Alphonsus school, I had stopped. I must have seen the mangled bodies of the victims strewn about Ouellette Avenue, but I don’t recall so I think I must have buried those memories. I do remember the baby doll.
A singed and soot-covered doll lay in the rubble, and I raced over to pick it up. Clutching my prize in my arms, I ran back to my Mom. She yanked the doll from me, and as she was about to toss the toy back on the ground, a firefighter stopped her and said, “It is okay. Let her keep the doll.” I remember getting very angry when my Mom lied to the firefighter, “She has enough dolls, she doesn’t need it.” Crying, I’d protested she was telling a lie, and I had never had a dolly. My Mom had marched away, and the firefighter had looked sadly at me. I can still see him leaning down to pick up the doll.
At home, my Mom tossed me a shopping magazine and had said, “There are lots of dolls in here. You can look at them all you want.” A couple of months later, at Christmas, a charity showed up with toys for all of us. A beautifully wrapped package had my name on it. I tore the paper to find a beautiful baby doll. It looked a lot like the doll that’d lain on Ouellette Avenue after the explosion. That doll, along with all my other few possessions was taken from me and put in “storage.” The Roman Catholic Children’s Aid Society seized me, and I never saw it again.
When I was in my 40’s my Mom gave me this doll. She told me she had found it in a St. Vincent De Paul store and she had drawn the features on the faceless toy. It took more than four decades, but my Mom finally gave me a doll.
© 2016 Zora Zebic